Monday, August 9, 2010
39. Visit Sweden
So, this post is actually a bit out of order, since I was in Denmark before I went to Sweden. But since I started this in Sweden while I was there, I decided to finish and post this one now . Our trip to Sweden was a bit different than the way I usually travel, because we didn't go to the capital (Stockholm) or even any large city like Goteborg or Lund. Instead we took the ferry from Helsinore (about which more in another post) in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden. And then we spent a couple days exploring the coast of Skane, the southernmost county of Sweden. I highly recommend it.
On the first day we took the ferry and checked out the city of Helsingborg which, despite the rain, was great. Probably the best part was climbing the tower of Karnan that has been restored from the original castle there. The whole town sits on a harbor and has lots of fabulous architecture, so taking a look at the town and sea from the top is pretty spectacular. I've posted a picture of the tower, and another of the view of Helsingborg from within the gates of the castle grounds.
The next day we went to yet another castle, this one called Sofiero (I had to have a picture of me standing on the front steps), a little ways out of Helsingborg. It used to be a summer residence of the Swedish royal family and has an astounding set of gardens, woods and sculptures surrounding it and leading to the ocean behind. Inside were lots of photos of past generations of the royal family, who seemed decidedly more down to earth than your average royals. They seemed to favor casual clothes, and participated in war-time rationing like everyone else. The gardens are obviously a lot of work and everyone, including the royal children, were supposed to help with them.
From Sofiero we hopped back on the bus and headed to Molle, the northernmost coastal town of the area. On the bus we were befriended by some wonderful people from the area who knew we didn't understand the system. Yvonne was helping her mom, Lillian, an 88 year-old lifelong Molle resident do some weekly shopping, and Glen was on his way home to his house in the village of Nyhamnslage about half an hour from Molle. When they realized we were on a bus headed elsewhere and needed to get off in Nyhamnslage, Glen insisted that we all come over to his family's place for some homemade elderberry flower soda after giving us a tour of the harbour. The home he took us to has been in his wife's family since 1830, and though it's hard to tell from the picture, the house behind Jerry, Yvonne and Lillian in the picture has a thatched roof, as do many homes in the area. Glen is a professor at Lund University and makes a 2 hour daily commute by bus and train (as does his neighbor Yvonne who is a middle school art teacher also in Lund) even though he has a car. Jerry and I were very impressed with their environmental consciousness, as well as Glen and his wife's wonderful hospitality with the soda and map explanation that you see Glen giving us here.
After our elderflower soda detour, we got on the right bus, and went the rest of the way to Molle, were we did an awesome hike along the cliffs of the ocean to a cafe for tea overlooking the water, and then onward toward a lighthouse at the very end of the peninsula. Then we hiked back to Molle, ate a great dinner of local fish on the harbour and grabbed a late bus back to Helsingborg. The next day we took the ferry back to Helsingore, a world-famous town because it is the home of Hamlet's castle (more on that in another post).
So, our two-day tangent was just a little slice of Sweden, but enough to make me know I like it, and hope I'll be back. And in case anyone's wondering, my observations -- admittedly brief -- confirm my suspicions that American fears of socialism are incredibly overwrought. It's true that food and consumer goods cost more, but there was also a lot more organic and less-processed food. As far as I could tell, there was still plenty of private enterprise, no one seemed lazy because of knowing they'd be getting good services from the state, and the transportation system was awesome. But check it out for yourself -- I think you'll be glad you did.
52 Ways to Say I Love You...
May I have two beers, please? Má ég hafa tvo bjóra, vinsamlegast?
I love you Ég elska þig
I'm writing this from Newark on my way back to Burlington and need to figure out some scheduling for the next week and a half. But I know that I am very motivated to try to reschedule the Camel's Hump midnight hike for this coming weekend (weather permitting), so if you're interested let me know, and also make a post or email if you're interested in hiking, kayaking, biking, ice skating or berry picking in the next week and a half. I hope to do some combination of all or some of these soon!